Best of three

In the fifth article of his series, Toks Oyegunle looks at the three fundamental pillars of creating a winning marketing strategy

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If we assume you want increased sales and profit from your dental practice, then what exactly must you do to create a marketing strategy that will help your business to thrive?
Before we get into the strategy, here’s a quick recap: This is the fifth article in a six-part series developed to help dentists improve the marketing of their practices. In this series, I am using my “triple M” profitable marketing framework as a tool to clarify exactly what needs to be done to significantly improve your marketing efforts. Over the last few issues, we have delved into the details of this framework separately: What they are, how they work, and how you can profitably apply the framework to your practice. This article will present an overview of all the individual components and how they all fit together.
The three basic aspects you need to understand and implement properly are market, message, and media.
Market
Simply put, your market represents the universe of current and potential patients. However, who really represents your perfect target market? If we are unclear what we are aiming for, it will be difficult to hit the target!
In line with this, I introduced the concept of the “perfect patient avatar”: a detailed profile of the best patient you can attract to your practice based on the criteria you believe your patients should exhibit. The idea of the demographics and psychographics of your market was explored as a key component of the perfect patient avatar, as this is the only way you can truly understand your market.
This detailed level of patient understanding is critical to you being able to attract the best patients effortlessly to your practice because you will know how they think and what they truly want from your practice and why.
To understand your patients better, I suggested you analyze your patient database by separating them into three distinct groups:

  • Best patients
  • Average patients
  • Worst patients

On one hand, this exercise helps you appreciate your best patients more and figure out ways to give them a delightful experience. On the other hand, it makes it very clear which patients need to be fired from your practice and why. Never be scared to lose problem patients — especially the ones you are sure that you cannot satisfy or convert to become your best patients. It will give you more time and energy to serve your best patients better — and that is always a good idea!
Message
Your message is the core essence of your communication with your market. This becomes increasingly easier once it is clear who your perfect patient is because you can intentionally craft your marketing message to speak directly to the patient’s wants and needs you have already identified. This is why we started by developing a “perfect patient avatar,” and I still strongly advise you to do this for your practice if you are serious about increasing your profit dramatically.
Next, identify your unique selling point (USP). This is usually a phrase or sentence that clearly summarizes and explains the key benefits you provide to your patients over your competition. Think of it as a simple marketing message that you can use to communicate with a lead that will easily convert them into a patient.
If you’ve not yet developed your USP, the following questions will help you:

  1. What are your core strengths?
  2. What are patients’ biggest needs?
  3. What are patients’ biggest wants?
  4. Why will patients choose you over others?

Remember, your USP does not need to be cast in stone; it is a dynamic communication tool you will use to easily attract the right patients to your practice on a regular basis.
The goal here is to create a message that makes you stand out in an already crowded marketplace. So, start now and put your USP together with the knowledge that you can always change it whenever you want.
Media
I gave the following definition of media to ensure you are thinking about your options the right way: “Media — any platform that enables you to effectively communicate your marketing message and positively influence your target market.”

Never be scared to lose
problem patients — especially
the ones you are sure that
you cannot satisfy to convert
to become your best patients.

Once again, I want you to take a moment to consider the many different platforms that you may use to communicate your marketing message and positively influence all the potential patients out there to come to your practice instead of the competition. We explored the different media options available to you in the market and considered the merits of some over the others.
What is the right media for you to use for the profitable marketing of your practice?
Do not underestimate the importance of this question; understanding what media to use, and why, will provide you with invaluable information regarding where you should regularly advertise your practice. It is probably the most important question you can ask regarding your use of media. If you get the answers wrong, you will probably incur considerable advertising costs with relatively few results to show for it. I am sure some of you have already had this experience. However, if you get this right, you should soon see considerable growth in the sales of your services and products.
The following questions will help you to understand what media you should use for profitable marketing:

  1. Who are your perfect patients?
  2. What media do they use?
  3. What media should you use?

Once you decide on the ideal media for your practice, you need to test each option carefully by starting small and only increasing your adverts in the media where you get results while decreasing/stopping adverts that do not bring results. You are a small business and simply cannot afford to do the big adverts that large companies do with little or no way to measure the effectiveness of your advertising spending.
This testing process will take time, but once you get it right, you will be able to predict the response you will get from certain media with some level of accuracy. This is the feedback you need to plan your advertising investment accordingly.
The basic three
We have clarified exactly what you need to do to increase your profit by improving your marketing, and it is captured by this simple formula: “Right market x right message x right media = increased practice profit.”
Once you get your market right, your message right, and your media right, you will be shocked by the rapid transformation that will happen to your practice. Once you manage to get the three basics right, increased profit will happen naturally as you will be optimized for growth.

Toks Oyegunle is a leading business coach and an award winning entrepreneur. The Harvard Business School alumnus is the founder of Thriving Practices: profitable marketing solutions; experience-based, technology driven.

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